mid-day Lunchbox: Off screen stories
Besides discovering common South Indian roots, Shefali Shah and Sobhita Dhulipala discuss their love for the city and dislike for GOT
Those who binge watch series on streaming platforms would be obvious fans of the latest works of actor Shefali Shah. And this crowd includes actor Sobhita Dhulipala herself. For when we meet Shefali at Yazu Pan Asian Supper Club and get talking about her role in Delhi Crime, Sobhita walks in, and announces, "I binge watched Delhi Crime," before she says hello, her admiration clear, setting the tone for the lunch. They start talking about work and it's easy to see how despite having a longish conversation for the first time, both actors who are different can find so much in common.
Karishma: Shefali, you're a Mumbai girl; Sobhita, you moved here for college. What do you love about the city?
Shefali: I love the rains and the sense of safety that I get out in the night without having to worry. I miss the old-world homes [turns to Sobhita] — Santacruz was filled with them. There are a few in town and in Bandra, but everything is giving way to high rises.
Sobhita: And they have now become shoot locations. [Shefali asks Sobhita about her origins. The response "Vishakapatnam" is met with a delighted "ooh" from Shefali]. I was this nerdy, un-cool kid who wanted to be liked. After the 12th standard, I wanted to go to a big city and feel the rush of being in a competitive environment. Once I got here, I would buy train tickets and commute to random places around the city. I wouldn't trade that for anything.
(The two browse the menu, discussing what to order)
Shefali: So you're a South Indian? So am I. I'm a Shetty.
(They settle on the vegetarian California roll after deciding to eat sushi with their hands, "like South Indians". Shefali orders a chicken tom kha soup and coffee).
Vegetarian California Roll and Tom Kha Soup
Karishma: Is there gender pay parity in the film fraternity?
Shefali: It's not about men and women. It's between stars and actors. It has nothing to do with your credentials or if you can act.
Sobhita: People should be rewarded for what they bring to the table. I see an actor slogging away and getting paid peanuts, while someone who has a five-minute appearance gets paid more. How we brand people should change.
Karishma: You've been a part of web series recently. Are they the next big thing?
Shefali: Web entertainment is the big thing right now. It has opened avenues for actors, writers and everyone associated with them because it's content-driven and there's no burden of box office numbers, stars and censorship. It also gives you a bigger span to build a character and get into the nuances. But if you just have two hours and can see a character through, that also speaks volumes.
Sobhita: You get to have moments of silence in a series, which is a luxury in films. I'm a consumer in her 20s, as is my younger sister. And going out to watch a film involves too many expenses and time. My sister says "It's too much commitment" and I get it. Also, it's often the loud films that earn more, which is more about the marketing and PR, which is unfair to the people who put in so much work.
Karishma: So, what do you watch on Netflix?
Shefali: If I watch something, I have to finish it. I can't take breaks. I last watched When They See Us. Have you seen Chernobyl?
Sobhita: I'm kind of scared because I'm too emotional. I watched Bandersnatch: Black Mirror and What the Health.
Shefali: I haven't seen Black Mirror and I haven't seen GOT either. I shall do that one day and I would have arrived. Aapne kya kiya? GOT dekha!
Sobhita: I watched it till season six.
(The tom kha soup and vegetarian California roll arrive. Shefali indulges in the soup as Sobhita eyes it longingly, before announcing that she's going to stick to eating sushi with her hands.)
Bhut jolokia mule
Karishma: Do you enjoy cooking? Where do you like eating in Mumbai?
Shefali: I love coastal cuisine. I recently made Mangalorean gassi with kaccha and pakka mango. But I enjoy cooking because it's not a daily chore. And my friends and I slip into comfy PJs and chappals, head to Colaba Causeway and settle at Café Mondegar for beer.
Sobhita: When I'm cooking for myself I create new things I would never do for anyone else. I made dosa with Maggi filling. I do what my dad calls 360-degree cooking. I stand in the kitchen, turn 360 degrees and put in everything I see [into the pan].
Shefali (turns to Sobhita): I do that too. When we didn't have kids, Vipul and I would take leftover sabzi, throw in some raw dal, chawal and achaar in the pressure cooker.
Sobhita: I am an achaar freak. I was in Italy and realised I'm going to become that Indian person who carries achaar when she travels.
Shefali: When you travel you suddenly want to eat Indian food. I used to laugh at people who carry theplas when they travel the world. My children who wouldn't touch them are asking for thepla and aaloo ki sabzi to be sent to Spain.
Your food mantra?
Shefali: I can pull off a whole day with coffee, tea and diet coke without breakfast. Nobody should follow this.
Sobhita: I eat when I'm hungry. I live by myself so I don't have to be normal.
One thing you cooked recently?
Shefali: I like making regional food. But I like Punjabi food only at dhabas in and en route to the state.
Sobhita: I enjoy making khichdi. When it was declared the national dish, I was the only one who was happy.
One role you covet to play?
Shefali: This book called Sybil talks about 16 multiple personalities, which is a case study.
Sobhita: I'm biased towards historical roles.
Your guilty pleasure?
Sobhita: I take my pleasure seriously. No guilt. Haq se karte hain.
Shefali: I agree. I was going to say baap ka mal hai. But nahin, why, hamara maal hai.
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